April 1, 2010

More to consider in budget decisions

by Erin Rosacker

Based on the research of its collaborators, the ISU ADVANCE program developed a set of recommendations for administrators to consider as they deal with budget reductions.

ISU ADVANCE, an initiative that focuses on the recruitment and retention of women faculty in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, is funded by a National Science Foundation grant through 2011. Using national and ISU research developed through the ADVANCE program, a list of three recommendations for ISU administrators focuses on:

  • Transparency and expression of opinion during the decision-making process
  • Equity of redistributed resources, such as staffing, funding and supplies
  • Preventing isolation and ensuring that junior faculty are mentored

Anticipated mergers and reorganizations in academic units are the driving force behind the recommendations (PDF). In its opening paragraph, the document states that the current "transitions" facing the university could provide "opportunities to eliminate historical inequities."

"We have spent the past four years studying academic culture to define conditions that create the most positive working environments for all faculty members," said Susan Carlson, ISU ADVANCE principal investigator and steering committee member. "Although there are many negative aspects of the current budget crisis, we believe that the best possible results of the upcoming university transitions will be achieved by taking into consideration issues such as transparency, expression of opinion, equity, isolation and mentoring."